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Eye Twitching: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

What is Eye Twitching? Eye twitching can be defined as both an eye condition in itself and a symptom of other eye conditions. The occurrence of eye twitching may be categorized into different types, but generally refers to rippling contractions of the eyelid, most often the lower one.

When people ask what eye twitching is, they are usually referring to eyelid myokymia, as it is the most common and general form. According to one of our qualified Raie Eyewear optometrists, eyelid myokymia is a very common yet generally benign condition that may be caused by stress, fatigue and caffeine.

Other Terms for Eye Twitching The scientific terms for eye twitching are myokymia, which can be further categorized as hemifacial spasm and blepharospasm. Colloquially, it is often referred to simply as eyelid twitching or eye twitch. The scientific terms are more commonly used in professional and medical contexts, while the colloquial terms are used casually.

How Common is Eye Twitching? Certain types of eye twitching, such as eyelid myokymia, are very common. The National Library of Medicine associates this benign condition with stress, anxiety and fatigue. In contrast, blepharospasm is a rare eye condition that causes eye twitching.

Types of Eye Twitching The three main types of eye twitching are:

  1. Eyelid myokymia: The most common type, eyelid myokymia is a benign condition brought on mainly by stress and fatigue. It involves fine, continuous contractions that mainly affect the lower eyelid.
  2. Blepharospasm: Also known as benign essential blepharospasm, this rare type is defined as uncontrollable eye movements such as blinking and twitching. It occurs when the brain region controlling the eyelid muscles malfunctions. Symptoms may progress from occasional twitches to more intense twitching that completely closes the eyes.
  3. Hemifacial spasm: This nervous system disorder causes the muscles on one side of the face, including the eye, to twitch and spasm involuntarily. It is often caused by a blood vessel pressing or pulsating on a facial nerve.

Causes of Eye Twitching Many causes of eye twitching can be addressed through lifestyle changes, including:

  1. Stress: The most common cause, stress often manifests as sporadic spasms. Reducing stress through meditation, movement and breathing exercises may prevent twitches.
  2. Caffeine intake: This stimulant, found in coffee, tea and soft drinks, can cause involuntary muscle movements, including in the eyelids. Reducing intake can limit twitching.
  3. Fatigue from insufficient sleep: Lack of rest and recovery time can trigger twitches, as neurotransmitters controlling muscle movement are affected. Prioritizing 8 hours of sleep nightly is beneficial.
  4. Strained eyes: Focusing intensely or for long periods, especially on computer work, can strain eye muscles and cause spasms and twitches. Uncorrected vision problems may also result in strain.
  5. Anxiety: Being anxious or having an anxiety disorder can cause eye muscles to tense up. The resulting overstimulation may lead to twitching and spasms. Calming techniques like breathing exercises and meditation can help.

It is also possible for outdated contact lens prescriptions to cause eye strain that leads to twitching.

Symptoms of Eye Twitching In addition to the twitching itself, eye twitching may be accompanied by symptoms such as:

  1. Eye irritation from the muscle spasms, which may be relieved with moisturizing eye drops
  2. Vision problems like blurriness or strain
  3. Facial spasms, especially with hemifacial spasms
  4. Increased rate of blinking, particularly with blepharospasm

These symptoms usually occur when a person is stressed, anxious, fatigued, or has consumed excess caffeine. Making lifestyle changes can often manage or prevent them.

Risk Factors According to the Cleveland Clinic, women are twice as likely as men to develop benign essential blepharospasm and Meige syndrome, two conditions that cause eye twitching. The University of Michigan Health notes that essential blepharospasm more commonly develops later in life.

Diagnosis and Treatment An optometrist can diagnose eye twitching as part of a comprehensive eye exam. If twitching persists for more than a few days after reducing potential triggers like stress and caffeine, the American Optometric Association recommends seeing an eye care professional.

At Raie Eyewear, our skilled optometrists can provide eye exams to diagnose, manage and treat certain eye conditions. Treatment depends on the type of twitching:

  • For eyelid myokymia, rest and reducing caffeine intake are often effective.
  • Blepharospasm may be treated with botulinum toxin injections into the eye muscles, or surgery to remove some nerve tissue or muscles if injections are ineffective.
  • Hemifacial spasm may also be treated with botulinum toxin injections or surgery.

While eye drops are rarely prescribed as a long-term treatment, maintaining a healthy diet and exercise may help prevent eyelid myokymia. Twitching often resolves within a few days, but if it persists or worsens, an eye care professional should be consulted.

Blepharospasm does not have a cure, but its symptoms can be managed with injections or surgery. There is no definitive evidence that blue light glasses reduce twitching, although they may help with eye strain. Raie Eyewear offers a blue light filter option for glasses.

Rarely, eyelid twitching may indicate a vitamin deficiency due to poor nutrition. Minerals and vitamins like calcium and vitamin D are integral to muscle function.